The beat of his own drummer
FRISCO – For Bongo Love, singing and drumming comes as naturally as breathing.
It’s a way of life, one he learned riding in a “mbereko” on his mother’s back while she traveled from one African village to another as a bush doctor.
“Drumming is meditation,” Love said. “The drums become you. My mom led ceremonies for the full moon, rain, harvest, marriage and initiation.”
Love’s earliest memories involve the drum and lullabies his mother sang in his rural village in Zimbabwe. His 11 siblings grew up playing drums and singing, but only Love brought the tradition to Boulder in 2000.
“I thought America would be like “Melrose Place,'” Love said. “Get a nice house and live like the TV people.”
But he discovered living in the United States comes with its own set of problems – like getting a job – and social concerns.
So Love created a band, started a nonprofit called Kudzidza Foundation (“kudzida” is Shona for “education”) and started leading workshops in schools.
He raises money for his foundation – which sends shoes, textbooks and pens to African schools – through festivals, camps and school drives. So far, schools from the Boulder School District have donated pens and old textbooks.
“When I was going to school, my dad could only afford one pen for me,” Love said. “Here, there are 20,000 pens all over the place. In Africa, we are 50 years behind the times.”
Love strives to teach Americans about his culture through his music. He sings in five of the 12 African dialects he knows, plus English.
“If you see (or hear different cultures), it changes the way you think,” Love said.
“If you can’t physically travel, then at least listening to other cultures’ music (opens your mind),” said his partner, Bethie. “You leave the fast-paced world that we live in, and you enter the African world.”
Love began performing for people in community dance halls in Bulawayo, one of Zimbabwe’s largest cities. But he didn’t use his native language. He entered lip sync contests, imitating 1980s pop stars. His favorite? Bryan Adams.
When he moved to Boulder, he gathered a 10-piece band to back his traditional African rock sound. Tonight, he’ll bring five musicians to Jonny G’s in Frisco.
“We call it “jump and prance’ – music which frees the soul,” Love said. “It’s happy music.”
His latest CD, “Transcending Parameters,” blends African music with jazz and funk to make it more accessible.
“It joins two worlds together,” Love said.
“It’s called “Transcending,’ and that’s what it feels like. It feels like you’re transcending into a different land,” Bethie said.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at
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